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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Rosalie Kunoth (Ngarla Kunoth), 1953

an unknown artist

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 23.4 cm x 17.7 cm, image: 21.9 cm x 16.6 cm)

This portrait is an early casting photograph taken at Coolibah Station in the Northern Territory in July 1953. Rosalie was renamed Ngarla by Elsa Chauvel in the film’s credits and marketing material. She was 16 years old at the time and selected for the role because of her shy demeanour and photogenic qualities. In her 1995 interview for the Australian Biography series, Kunoth recalled Elsa Chauvel selecting her acting name: ‘She said that I had to be Ngarla. And every part of my body screamed and said, ‘I am not a Ngarla. I am an Apunaga woman’, because I’d been brought up knowing who I am.’ It was the first Australian film to feature two indigenous Australians in the lead roles and the first fully Australian-funded narrative feature film to be shot in colour.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2016

Accession number: 2016.33

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Rosalie Kunoth-Monks AM (age 16 in 1953)

Subject professions

Activism

Performing arts

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.